Police swarmed to a Taranaki street this afternoon after reports that a gunman was on the loose.

A large number of police units were sent to Stratford, south-east of New Plymouth, after someone called 111 about a man walking the streets with a firearm.

But the police, including armed officers, were quickly stood down when it was revealed that the gun was in fact a humble household item.

"It turned out that the gun was a broom," a police spokeswoman said.

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No one was injured, she added.